Seven years ago John and Dawn Bunting began supporting the youth mentoring program in Carrboro after John was hired as head coach at UNC, and the support from the players has grown every year since.
"It started with five or 10 players," explained VFY program coordinator Scott Dreyer. "Now we have 30 players signing up. It has been a big thing for the football players, as well as the kids. It is growing on both sides."
"We've been doing this event for awhile, and it is always a good thing to get out here," said multi-year contributor, offensive lineman Scott Lenahan. "Anytime we do anything with the kids is always a good time. It's good to give back to the community once in awhile.
"Everybody gets together, and the kids love this stuff. Some guys don't realize how much it really means to the kids. It's good to get other guys to come out. When that happens, even more guys want to go. You only get a few chances a year to do an event like this--some sort of community service--so you have to [take the opportunity when you can].
The skill level of the football players ranged from never having swung a club to some who looked like they could account for themselves quite nicely. None of the players looked ready for the PGA Tour, but everyone appeared to be enjoying themselves in spite of the sweltering heat.
Lost on some of the competitive athletes who rely so much on brawn is the finesse involved in golf.
"Some of these guys have never swung a club in their life, and it is so funny to see guys hacking away at balls and whiffing," said Lenahan. "You think they are going to fall over trying to swing for the house. It's a great time; I love it. I play golf--not a lot--enough to be able to somewhat know what I'm doing. It's just funny to watch other guys trying to teach these kids, and they don't know what they are doing. It's funny, it's a good time, and it is all for a good cause."
In spite of the ability--or lack thereof--everyone looked to be having a good time on the driving range. Afterwards, lunch was served and then the players signed autographs and posed for pictures.
"It's the best time of my life," said Javaughn Davis, 11-year-old VFY mentee. "I get to meet the UNC football players. They are my favorite team in the whole world."
Fifteen-year-old Joseph Drummond had a good time as well. "This is great, having fun with the college students," he said. "It is fun spending time with them. It's like you could never imagine. It's really cool. They are cool and funny--really good people."
"Sometimes it is hard to tell the kids [from the football players]," said Dreyer. "We come out thinking that our kids are looking up to these big guys, but then you see the players being kids again, having fun interacting with the kids and thinking back to when they were that age. Watching both sides be kids is the [best] part for me."
For more information on how to get involved with Volunteers For Youth please visit the VFY website:
Clinic attendees and UNC football players get basic instructions before heading to the driving range.
Garret White, Kyle Jolly (background), and Joseph Drummond work on their grip.
Garrett Reynolds gets some individual instruction.
Justin Warren and Zack Pianalto introduce themselves to Javaughn Davis.
Zack Pianalto addresses the ball.
Davis makes his backswing with Aaron Stahl (73) and Durell Mapp (48) in the background.
Joe Dailey gets an early start on his coaching aspirations as he chats with Caleb French, four years old...
...and shows him how to hit the ball.
Joseph Drummond (green T-shirt) and Javaughn Davis (#23) pose with Scott Lenahan and Joe Dailey, respectively.